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How to retain young talent in the PR world

The role of traditional public relations has been challenged in the past decade, with a higher demand for digital expertise from clients who are trying to jump on the digital bandwagon while the retaining of talent continues to be a problem.

In a recent round table, Rob Sheffield, group CEO of Nakama said the dilution of PR’s role in the communications world should be seen as more of an evolution as the role consistently becomes more complex.

When discussing what the millennial PR professional want out of a job, many industry players say company growth and opportunity are key areas which potential millennial hires tend to look out for.

“A lot of the research has suggested however, that what this generation is looking for is more experiences, less so on where the organisation is going,” Sheffield said. He added:

They are not afraid to fail, but they don’t want to be told that they failed.

The importance of fostering a sense of ownership is also important to millennials as it makes them feel more involved in what the company is doing. This also gives them a sense of control in what they can do in furthering the company’s development.

Managing expectations

According to Sheffield, having crafting a three to five year plan for a millennial is becoming irrelevant as millennials take on a more short term view. A plan which maps an employee’s progress from three to six months and then six to nine months is a more effective way to ultimately help them see a five year commitment with the company.

Tarun Deo, managing director of Singapore and Southeast Asia for Golin, also present at the roundtable, said it is important that employers articulate clearly the company’s plan as it helps in build aspiration in the minds of young staff.

If where the organisation is going doesn’t gel with what they want professionally, they will eventually leave and go somewhere else.

He added that people at senior management level are often afraid to communicate the organisation’s future plans due to fear of not being able to live up to it – even if it is due to uncontrollable factors.

“As senior managers we need to go out there and share our plans and the vision so the expectations of employees are in line with ours,” Deo said.

Caroline Bowler, managing director, fintech public relations at Bowlah said employers should be more careful in the recruitment process and look for someone who is able to bring skills which are lacking in the team – rather than succumbing to their personal view of the potential hire.

“I have seen someone exactly like myself during the interview and I got excited because I thought she was the one. But later I realise that she had the same attributes as me and I needed skill sets complimentary to mine,” Bowler said. As such, she ultimately hired an individual who filled the skill gaps of the team to add flexibility and depth.

Skill sets needed in modern day PR

The world of public relations has evolved in an exponential pace today. What we knew of the job five years ago is no longer what it is in modern day. Some traits that are highly sought after in the public relations industry include a good understanding of business objectives and hunger for a good story.

Having a sense of transformation is also important said Satvinder Sandhu, managing consultant of Elevate Communications. This ensures that the person is able to fit into long term road maps for the company.

Above all, having the ability to evolve and grasp new skills quickly is paramount to a team’s success, Dinesh Subramaniam, director, digital and communications network at Wärtsilä added.

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